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more than a battle and less than a war

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As lips meet mouth meet jaw and tongue and teeth like something that's going to leave a bruise, hot messy suction and beard burn that tastes like the edge of rubbing alcohol, he thinks: so this is what it's like to kiss Connor McDavid.

Then he feels sharp teeth sink a seething mark into his lower lip, and amends: this is what it's like to kiss Connor McDavid when Connor McDavid wants to physically disembowel you, set the pieces on fire, and grind the ashes under his heel.  

(Worth it, probably.)




Things that taste like electricity:

There's checking someone flat and the sound of the boards cracking, there's the sting of hitting the ice, there's knuckles to the chin and blood on the tongue, and the way Leon had stared at him after the puck went in tonight, cold steel like a shot to the sternum sending heat racing down his veins. Heart hammering, cheeks hot. He doesn't even remember making it back to the bench.

They'd won, though.

Brady looked fucking ecstatic, like he was trying to be disappointed but was also just thrilled at him across the ice. Good.

It's not like after a game, not really; NHL, but not real professional hockey. They're not a team, there's no teams here. It's just hockey players. Bunch of guys, superstars, divas smelling like rink stink under fresh polyester they'll only wear once, and it's a little wild how much he wants to impress them, how much they want to impress each other. He's pretty sure half the guys that people actually wanted to see here just wanted to get out by the end of it anyway, exhausted and sweaty and bitchy about St. Louis and trying not to be bitchy about it in front of the kids and the cameras, taking awkward and exasperated facetimes in the halls from teammates obviously drunk off their asses somewhere, except MacKinnon, who's facetiming Gabe Landeskog's kid apparently? Jesus. The All-Star Weekend feels surreal, just a fever-dream trip of color and faces turning over and life grinding to a halt.

They're doing the interview thing, McDavid and Draisaitl, voices echoing flat and awkward, and he doesn't mean to pay attention, but it's also the most excruciating thing he's ever heard. It's fantastic.

He gives a Gio some love and talks some shit with a few guys, grins at a few more who seem to consider it truce over and grimace back. Nobody actually says anything, because the media's fuckin' vultures here right now, flock of gulls, you can't walk without tripping over them. There's loud questions, loud talking, loud laughing, quiet cussing, new gear smell and old sock smell and fidgeting and the taste of Gatorade and salt on the air. Someone punches his shoulder hard, three times in the same spot, a grim silent celebratory understanding of 'fuck you too' while autographing something for a couple of little kids. He tries not to laugh too hard.

People yell at him, yell his name, when he clears out, like he's the only one who's got it here. It doesn't matter.

This is it for Matt. This is where he wants to be, where his people are, his town, this was fucking worth it.

But sure, fine. It's not really just his town, not this weekend.

So there's the family and there's the guys; he does the photos, a couple seconds of video, and promises to be around. There's time for all that later when the place clears out. It's been here his whole life, and it'll be here when it's not this weekend that's gonna be over in — he doesn't know when, soon. Even Brady's trying to squirm away, starry-eyed and dazed, and their dad gets it, obviously, even though he probably doesn't get that Brady wants to get away so that he can keep on trying to hit on Patrick Kane; fuck's sake. Matt's just gonna let that one sort itself out.

They all have a few laughs, a few teary-eyed ones and hugs and hair-tugs, and then he's out, phone and keycard pocketed.  It's back into the night, and back to the hotel for him, and the bar downstairs that sounds like a rave happening in a construction site.




When the door opens it already smells like sweat and beer and cologne, dark and damp. Disgusting and awesome.

There's McDavid at the bar.

It always feels like an ice rink around the guy. He's leaning against the bar, glass of something in hand that might be water or might be straight vodka, his eyes dead-blue and his hair dark at the edges with water. He's cleaned up since the game, obviously, washed it off, but God, does McDavid ever really wash a game off? Can you really just talk to Connor, the guy?

He catches Matt's eye and doesn't react, doesn't blink. It picks up the hairs on the back of Matt's neck.

He's not alone, there's no way he could ever be alone. Nobody'd let him. There's a crowd that keeps swapping out on rotation, everybody wants to congratulate or to say some shit or to just bask, until they run out of time, or spot another crowd hanging around that's actually fun and peel off. Somehow Draisaitl isn't there, though, and that — that throws Matt, for some reason.

So he goes to the other end of the bar and feels like he leans slightly off-balance even though he hasn't got a hint of anything in him.

He orders something and something else, and he feels off-balance when he downs the first, and he still feels off-balance on the second, and then the third. Nobody bothers him. He doesn't really need to wonder why. He doesn't look interested, probably. He isn't. This is his town. He could pick up here any night, team or none. He's watching Connor talking awkwardly with some bright-gazing chick who looks kind of like she wants to cry on him. Imagine looking to pick up and getting cried on instead? Christ. Christ McJesus.

Someone breezes by and knocks his fucking glass over. There's Draisaitl.

There's liquid splatter on Matt's pants, cold between his knees. "Oh, look, just — I'll get you another," the bartender says, harried. Draisaitl doesn't pause on his way.

Connor shifts when he sees him, looking up and face opening, relieved, and Draisaitl moving into the space and Connor getting up — unconscious like a shift change — Draisaitl's got the chick's attention now, leaning in intently, murmuring something, and Connor's leaving, and — he sees Matt.

Connor doesn't just see Matt, he's looking at him. Through him. Matt can't even tell at first, really, his gaze is that cold, until Connor is three feet away from him and brushing past him, shit, shoulder close enough that Matt can smell the artificial newness of his shirt, feel the body heat. Matt maybe flinches. Maybe that can be forgiven.

Draisaitl sees it. He doesn't make a move, just watches. Maybe that was the right reaction.

Matt gets up. He doesn't bother with the replacement drink.




Connor holds the goddamn elevator for him. It's a miracle nobody else sees this happening. He'd die on the fucking spot.

They ride up in silence. It's terse. Connor leans against the other wall, arms crossed, head slightly tilted, neck slightly turned, hair falling into his face, refusing to acknowledge that Matt exists and is staring at him from less than three feet away.

They get there, to the right floor, and Connor fucking holds the elevator for him again and waits for him to get out. Doesn't look at him, doesn't say anything. Matt's starting to wonder if he's ever planning on acknowledging that Matt exists anywhere in the universe other than to hold open doors for him.

They get to the room, and obviously, it's Connor's room, so he has to unlock it and then hold that door open, too. If it were Matt, he'd only be doing it so that he could slam the door shut at the last second and take the guy out properly; he doesn't, though. It's absolutely bonkers.

The door closes quietly behind them, click of lock, and only half the lights are on, bed done, floor clean, nothing out of place. For a weird moment Matt thinks about whether he needs to take off his shoes like a good Canadian boy would.

It's like he's stepped out of his skin. This doesn't happen. This happens once a year? Kane's done this weekend nine goddamn times, how does the fuck does he even remember who he is?

Connor is finally looking at him again, though, that unnerving stare close and sharp, jaw tight, eyelashes light at the tips, mouth pinched and eyes dark. He's seen Connor McDavid on the ice, and Connor McDavid in the summers. Not this summer, you know. But. Or maybe it's all just a lie of professionalism, who knows? And this is somewhere in between.

Connor's really not that intimidating out of his gear. You couldn't tell he wasn't just — some guy, and not the youngest Captain in NHL history, all that.

Matt licks his lips, which are dry as hell.

"So, Captain," he says easy, dropping the T, and Connor's got his fist in the front of Matt's shirt like an iron vise, fuck, shoving him against the wall, fuck, the light switch's going to leave a bruise.

That's all it is at first. Matt isn't sure what it is, other than stars behind his eyelids. This is off the ice, he doesn't — there's no pads, no — this contact is different, and he doesn't want to shove back because someone will actually come up here and murder him, someone's just going to materialize out of nowhere and just — fucking put him through the glass window — but then there's Connor McDavid's mouth on his.

Lips meet mouth meet jaw and tongue and teeth like something that's going to leave a bruise, hot messy suction and beard burn that tastes like the edge of rubbing alcohol, and he thinks: so this is what it's like to kiss Connor McDavid.

Then he feels sharp teeth sink a seething mark into his lower lip, and amends: this is what it's like to kiss Connor McDavid when Connor McDavid wants to physically disembowel you, set the pieces on fire, and grind the ashes under his heel.

So it's not different at all, actually.

It's adrenaline in his veins, bruising fingers in his biceps and the air punched out of him, drywall digging into his back, hot mouth, soft. He presses back because he can do that, take it and give it back, here he can, wrest it back around before it stings, and the slip of his tongue out of his mouth is like getting away with it.

Connor gives enough when he presses so that they stumble back, dizzy, against the other wall of the narrow entryway. The purchase there lets him slow down, lets Matt get his tongue where he wants it, tracing Connor's lip and Connor's teeth biting just hard enough against his own to leave a mark.

Hard fingers are still digging into his shoulders. He's going to be speckled with bruises tomorrow, dotted with fingerprints. But he follows Connor's lead and slides his hands up under Connor's shirt, hot skin and tense muscle, gets a leg between his thighs where he's half-hard, both of them are. It sends a jolt through him, a hiss, and he almost wants to peel away, but he doesn't.

Connor's still kissing nice.

It's nice, fucking — even with the teeth, Matt's mouth is getting swollen and a little bruised but he doesn't break skin, not once, just tiny nips that sting and make him flinch. When Matt tries to deepen it, there's suction, hot swipe of tongue, but light, he can't press in, there's still Connor's hands bracing him so he can't move in, can't move away. It's always — fucking control with this guy. He's never out of control, even here.

Matt pulls away just to breathe, and to realize that Connor's breathing hard under his palms, too, pulse racing, ribs heaving.

He hears the lock click, not five feet away.

A sudden gust of chill on skin, and it feels like — it feels like he's in the air, like someone's yanked him right off his feet, ripping him away from Connor's body, fingers tight in his hair, and there's Draisaitl with the other fucking key.

He doesn't even feel the grip around his collar at first, just knows he can't breathe, hears a sound in his ear that might resemble words or might just be a vehement snarl. He opens his mouth and a wheeze escapes. But he can take — no, he can't take Draisaitl, not here, not in this setting, and not when he's like this. There's an elbow across his chest pinning him and he doesn't struggle, doesn't make it worse.

There's a harsh breath out on his face. It's not worth it to flinch, so he doesn't.

Slowly he registers that there's only the one arm on him, holding him back across the sternum, a leg braced like iron between his. The other is stretched out to the side, towards Connor. He can't see what it's doing, what he's doing. What they're doing: McDavid and Draisaitl.

Another exhale glances against his cheek, warm, lighter. Uncertain.

Matt tries to shift, the leg between his pressing just a little too rough, almost painful. He waits it out.

His ears are ringing when the arm disappears and the grip on his shirt comes back.

Leon Draisaitl doesn't kiss nice.

Draisaitl knocks him back further into the room before slamming him against the wall again, and then it's fingers twisting in his hair and his heartbeat in his ears as he fucking suffocates under Draisaitl's mouth, tongue almost choking him, hot and pressing in so hard he thinks he can feel it in his throat. He gasps when Draisaitl pulls back, and his eyes have adjusted enough in the half-light by now to see the sharp cut of his cheekbones and nose and rough stubble, the shadowed red of his lips, and Connor somewhere behind him, still leaning up against the wall, lazy, hair mussed, arms at his sides, eyes a little glassy. Matt needs to say something.

His voice cracks when he tries, low and rasping already. "Well. What. You here to assist? Or what, does —"

The room's tilting before he can make sense of it. He's pulled off the wall and onto the bed, more forgiving than expected, and there's weight heavy across his thighs. He's still hard as hell.

The weight's gone in a moment, and he blinks, dazed, sprawled.

Draisaitl kicks him, hard against the inside of one foot. Again, a full-body motion and vicious sway of the hips, hard enough to send a jolt up his shin. Connor's still leaning against the wall, watching. Matt spreads his knees. He gets the message.

Draisaitl's jaw works, eyes blazing, as he gets on the bed with his knees, and Matt can't help it, he grins, and he puts his arms back behind his head because he's sprawled on a bed for the unstoppable fucking duo and they both want him dead, or maybe they just want him. He'll take it.

Draisaitl straddles him, wrenches him up with fingers twisting hard in his hair, and Matt lets a noise escape. Zipper, shove, and then Draisaitl's cock is in his own hand — big, and just filling out now as he jacks it roughly, never taking his eyes off Matt's face. Matt gets to watch it harden over his own stomach, shirt riding up just a little and knees digging into his sides, and he can't tear his eyes off it, swallowing, just once, before Draisaitl opens Matt's jaw with a rough finger and slides it into his mouth.

He's not ready for it. He doesn't know how he doesn't gag. Maybe he's just that stunned.

It's not even a blowjob, it's too uncoordinated to be much of anything. It's just Leon fucking into his open mouth, cock heavy and hot and mostly dry, and if Matt's teeth catch anything, Leon doesn't fucking seem to care as long as he keeps drawing the wet, protesting noises out of the back of Matt's throat.

Faintly he registers Connor moving. His shape hovers in the corner of Matt's vision, then rematerializes on the close edge of the other bed, soft creak and knee bent up, still just watching silently.

"How's that, eh?" Leon hisses above, accent rougher than he remembers. Leon yanks his head back so he can lean in and spit close to Matt's ear, while Matt catches his breath, "How's that? Choke, huh — " and then he's pulling Matt's head back again so he can slide his cock back along Matt's tongue slow and obscene, slick and wet with spit. Matt makes a protesting noise, but it fits better, and he can't pull off.

Leon thrusts a couple more times — Matt does gag once, a squelch and a cough and eyes watering — and then pulls abruptly away. Matt falls back, limp on the bed and heaving.

There's a sharp tug on his waistband while he's still blinking his vision back. Leon pulls so hard that he almost drags Matt halfway down before Matt manages to scramble and get his hands under him to help, come on, kicking his pants away, boxers uncomfortable and damp at the front, God — he hears a soft sound and Connor's laughing.

Just for that he should — he doesn't know what he should do. He reaches, though, a hand flailing out, weak enough and distracted enough that it probably looks pathetic.

But there's a sinking weight next to him on the bed, and Connor's there to help, apparently, eyes still unreadable on Matt's face, one hand warm and dry on Matt's bare arm, and the other working quietly on the button of his own trousers. And —

Leon's hand clamps down on Matt's bare thigh and Jesus Christ, Leon's mouth.

Leon might not care about teeth, but Matt sort of does, and so he makes a choked yelp. But — there's silky heat all at once engulfing the tip of his dick. Leon doesn't move his head, doesn't try to take Matt down all the way, just presses an elbow into Matt's hip and bends down and sucks. Leon's lips around the head of his cock, nothing gentle but no teeth either, just suction that drowns all the thoughts out of Matt's head and down his body, and maybe he'd flagged a little after the face-fucking, he'd been a bit fucking distracted, but immediately he's full-on hard again.

Matt doesn't think he's yelling until he stops, air gone. He shuts his mouth. Not that Leon quits.

Matt tries not to make noise and fails, tries not to writhe and fails, winds up just clutching to the bedspread for life as Leon works and Connor carefully, gracefully, swings one long leg over him, settling back against the headboard. Matt's hand finds one of Connor's ankles without meaning to and curls around it.

"Fuck, what — you fucking — oh," he pants, as Leon shoves Matt's leg up higher, over his warm shoulder, and lifts off just to press his dick back against his stomach, out of the way, and get his hot tongue below it, the tip flicking light up against his hole. The grip on his thigh is like a bear trap.

Connor's still making amused sounds somewhere above him. The pad of his thumb a swiping against Matt's shoulder, cool against the dip in his collarbone, gathering the sticky sweat breaking out on his skin. Matt clenches, kicks his heel in a little against Leon's back, and Leon's weight comes down on him to press him a little further into the mattress.

A spitting sound, dirty and warm, and a moment and then another, and there's spit running down his crack, slippery. A thumb rubs it in hard against the sensitive skin there, slow pressure while Matt tries to breathe even, blinking at the ceiling.

Leon takes him in his hand roughly, and Matt moans, frustrated, trying to find leverage, getting shoved back down when he lifts up, getting a knuckle dug deep into the joint of his thigh for the trouble. He jerks and Connor's left leg shifts, corralling him back to the center of the bed.

He clenches his teeth, sweat prickling down his back, and finally Leon lifts off, gets his arms around his legs, hips, pulls him down towards him, and just twists and flips him messy, like a sack of dirt, a tangle of limbs and the fabric under them shifting and bunching.

Matt claws his way back up, but the hand flat on his back mashes his chest into the sheets.

Matt gets a hand on Connor's thigh, and Connor doesn't make a move to help him. "What? What do you want?" Matt demands, and it sounds a little whiny, a little hoarse. He's irritated with himself.

Connor shrugs, one hand still on his dick, one hand resting lightly against his other leg. Then Leon's fingers dig into Matt's left asscheek, and Leon's mouth digs into the right, teeth clamping down over a newly-wet mark and sucking it raw. Matt shouts.

Connor exhales a laugh, and finally he lifts his hand to slide his fingers through Matt's hair, and Matt chokes and groans as Leon's tongue finds his hole, wet and flat and flexing against the ring of muscle there, nose pressed deep against the bottom of Matt's spine. Matt's dimly aware that his cock is swinging free beneath him, nothing touching it.

Connor's voice is low, too low to sound casual in this setting. "Want?" he says, measuredly. Matt's face is an inch from Connor's cock, and it's thick, wet at the tip. Connor's hand is on the back of his head, Matt can't look up at him. It's obvious what he's meant to be looking at, Christ.

Matt doesn't try to nod, or say anything, because that'd come off more desperate than he wants to, even though there is nothing about this that isn't desperate, fuck.

Matt leans up on his elbows, and he exhales shakily, and Connor slides his hand under his jaw to steady him as Matt bends his head down.

He starts off fine, getting his mouth around and lips stretched soft, enough to draw a quick breath out of Connor, but then he has to slide off for a second to moan into Connor's trousers as Leon presses his tongue into Matt's entrance, insistent, jaw up against his balls. His fucking scruff — Matt's going to have beard burn in his fucking asscrack for days and he hates it but he doesn't give a fuck, it's good, it makes his cock jump against his stomach when he shuffles and tries to lean back and Leon grabs his hips and yanks to keep him off-balance, keep his weight on his knees and elbows.  

There's a moment Matt spends on muffled groaning and cussing before Leon lets up enough for him to breathe and sink down again at once, hands clenched in the bedspread on either side of Connor's hips. Then he's got it, mostly. More or less. He stops again to cut off a sharp gasp when Leon slides a hand down his hip, around under him to palm at his heavy cock, and then gets the rhythm back a little more staggered, and then he doesn't know what the fuck he's doing, mostly just moaning and perpetual swearing around Connor's cock, sucking loosely, while Leon eats his ass and pulls at his dick, and —

All through it, Connor is nice.

Behaves himself perfectly. Doesn't fuck up into his mouth, doesn't press down on his head, just directs him into a firm up-and-down with a thumb on the corner of his jaw where it joins his ear, his other hand circling the base of his dick and jacking fervently. It's not supposed to be a show, but it kind of is, Connor's sleeves rolled up and his arms muscled and his legs stretched out, his cock out, everything's a show with Connor when he wants to make it one. He sounds like he's enjoying himself, breathing deep and even and just a bit ragged.

Matt sucks and hiccups and sucks and hiccups, pitched with the tension deep in his gut and the vibration of Leon's tongue in his ass and his hand tight on Matt's cock, and Connor makes a tiny urgent noise after an eternity, back arching just a little before his hips still again, restrained by some inhuman goddamn will, and Matt could scream.

Connor. Fucking Connor, can't even come apart properly like a normal human being, Connor, golden boy, watching his linemate eat Matt's ass out over Matt's back and refusing to fuck up into his mouth, just because he can. Because they all know — they didn't know, and they still don't know; they only know enough because Connor McDavid shouldn't be here, but he is, this fucking miracle kid they broke apart last year who shrugged and put himself back together over the summer, piece-by-piece, bones like steel and blood like fire, like some — some —

Matt groans, Leon's hand on his dick pulling fast and rough and his tongue pressing past the shivering tension of his ass, his fingers digging into his thighs —

Jesus, Brady is gonna fucking kill him and he's going to —

Connor's hand reaches around and his fingers tighten on the back of Matt's neck, and the sound that comes out of him must be ridiculous, throat-deep and wrung from the gut, as Matt clenches and shudders and spills onto the bed underneath him, his entire weight bucking up back uselessly against Leon who's kneeling on the backs of his legs, hand still tight around him. His core aches, his ribs burning with air sucked into his lungs and held there for too long, his mind fluttering and stuttering blank.

He loses control of his muscles in time for the hand on his neck to grab his shoulder and pull him off just an inch. Matt's still coming down, sparks in his vision and his mouth helplessly gasping open, when the salt hits the flat tip of his tongue.

He can't collapse, but he needs to, feels flattened, his arms cramping and his legs cramping. He feels like he's going to be sore just from being this tense for this long tomorrow, raw just from exposure, from being in the same room as these two. He'd bet on it.

When he can figure out how to make himself move, he glances up dazed from his elbows to see that Connor isn't looking at him — isn't looking at either of them, head ducked and tilted to the side, eyes slid shut tight like it hurts, mouth parted and red and his hair a frozen tumble of gold in the dark. His free hand dropping listlessly after a minute to rest on the pillow beneath him is the only sign that he's even still breathing.

Matt licks his lips again, trying to catch his breath. His mouth tastes split.

Connor seems to return to himself with a squaring of the shoulders; his eyelashes flutter open just a little, and the thin flash of blue like a knife is all Matt sees before Leon is dragging him up and away, peeling him off the bed.

His boxers being yanked back up his legs chafe. He's uncoordinated, woozy, and Leon — Draisaitl has to help him into his fucking trousers in the dark, ass tilted up on the other bed and he's sticky all over, he's right, his asscrack is going to feel raw for a week after this. By the time he somehow gets his pants on, Connor still hasn't moved from the bed.

Connor's watching them. Matt tries not to look at him for too long. He gets the feeling that this isn't for him, really.

Draisaitl finds Matt's shoes and shoves them into his hands — couldn't help him with those, then, asshole — and then the hand on his ass could almost be friendly if it wasn't accompanied by nails in his elbow, grip like a vise, steering him to the door with a yank like a choke collar. He tries to shrug it off but just ends up off-balance, stumbling and clipping the doorframe on the way out.

The hotel hallway is searingly bright after the room, artificial lighting like flashbulbs. Matt winces, turns, tries to orient himself.

And then there's a knock on his side, knuckles grinding in just below the ribs, sharp and gentle even though it makes him double over in surprise: grudging contact, a good-game tap meant to leave a mark.

The door clicks shut behind him.




When he manages to compose himself — the hallway's blessedly empty, though he can hear a room service cart one over, he should get out of here — Matt dumps his shoes down — has to check which one's which before he crams his feet into them — then staggers upright again.

He walks the wrong way in a daze for a second, drifting down the hall, before he comes to his senses and heads back to the elevator bank. Flushed and a little high, giddy. His cheek keeps twitching and he needs to bite the inside of it to keep his grin to a manageable level of shit-eating for the public.

He's probably disgusting. He checks the floor, punches the up button so he can get to his own room.

As he's riding up he thinks about the ice, earlier tonight, the puck hitting net and the roar far away, sweat dripping down the back of his neck and Leon's gaze cutting across the distance, loathing, bright like shards of glass.

Matt hadn't heard. He'd seen, though, almost from the corner of his eye, as he'd skated to the bench numb on adrenaline. He could feel it.


Fuck you, Leon'd mouthed, and —

— and then he hadn't really, huh?

People say a lot of shit out there. Matt would know.


The elevator dings, doors sliding open, and he gets off, digging for his card.

There's still a lot of goddamn season left, a lot of season left to come. Almost close enough to taste.